When It All Goes Horribly Wrong

This Saturday, I was due to run the Lakeland Trails  Hawkshead Challenge. At just over ten miles, it is shorter than most races I do, but I was hoping that going a bit faster than usual would be good for me. Another advantage was that my son and daughter-in-law, Dave and Lina would be running.

Dave, Lina and I about three miles in.

It was great to meet up with a few folks from the facebook #run1000miles2019 group at the start.

The route starts with a steep climb up out of Hawkshead and Dave and Lina soon dropped me, but I caught up again on the flat section along the ridge. We dropped down to the water station at Sawrey together and climbed up the steep section together before the technical (steep and rocky) descent to the lake. All three of us like fast descents and Dave and Lina bounded off like scalded mountain goats.  I was stuck behind other runners and couldn't keep up. however, the path soon widened out and was able to start to move faster.


I tripped on a rock and hit the ground hard, very hard. it's not the first time I've tripped running and it won't be the last. I took a moment to get my breath and rolled into a sitting position. Apart from some bruises which would be a lot worse the next day, I felt ok. nothing that a short rest wouldn't fix; though I'd blown my chance of a sub-two-hour finish. then I saw my finger. the end of the middle finger of my left hand was sticking out at 90 degrees in a direction that fingers don't normally stick out in. Not only that, but there were more bones and tendons visible than you would generally hope to see.

Normally, if I trip and people ask if I'm ok, I just shrug them away and tell them I'll be fine. this time, I knew I needed help. Fortunately, a combination of shock and adrenaline were keeping the pain at bay. Then a few good Samaritans arrived. A doctor, whose name I didn't catch, patched me up, while I asked the lady who lives in my phone to call Dave and Lina, who quickly appeared back up the hill. then, Marsha, a nurse (with a wicked sense of humour) helped down a kilometre of rocky path to the road along the Western shore of Windermere.

On the way to the road.
I waited in a marshall's car for a wee while till the medic turned up, by now I was very cold and my finger really hurt.

Not my best look.
Back at the race HQ medical tent, the doctors started muttering about blood flow. Apparently, the way my finger was bent meant that the tip was not getting much blood and I was in danger of losing it (I didn't). For a few minutes one of the doctors considered straightening the finger on the spot, but he quickly realised that he didn't have enough pain relief available to make that possible. the air ambulance wasn't available, so I was driven to Lancaster, blue lights flashing, where after a painful local anaesthetic, everything was sorted out.

Two days later, my left eye is just about closed and as long as I take the pain killers, my finger only hurts a lot.  Apparently, I can expect a few months of pain in the joint and I can forget any plans I had to be a concert flautist.

Some reflections:

Runners are Awesome: the people who stopped to help and patched me up were amazing. No one was worried about times or personal bests, they just wanted to help a fallen runner. Someone draped an expensive jacket over my shoulders to keep me warm; I hope they retrieved it at the finish line. Thank you, everyone.

The Race Organisers and Marshalls Are Awesome: normally, marshalls are just friendly people that you thank as they point you in the right direction. However, at a time of need, the fact that a first aid kit was readily available and radio contact meant that a medic could get to me quickly was a huge help and a massive reassurance. thank you to all involved and kudos to Lakeland Trails for having the pieces in place, just in case (see you in July).

My Family Are Awesome: Dave and Lina were great. Even before I fell, I noticed that Dave kept looking over his shoulder to check that I was ok. It's good to know that he looks after the old man. They sat with me, followed me to Lancaster and dealt with the logistics problem of my car being parked in a field 70 miles from home.

Running: I was running pretty well, much faster than I'd hoped and I'm fitter than I expected. I hope an enforced break doesnt spoil that. Shortly before I fell, I remarked to Lina that I was struggling on the rough ground in my varifocal glasses. I had planned to run in my distance-only specs, but forgot to take them. to what extent this contributed to the 'mishap', I can't tell. 

To everyone who has shared sympathy, best wishes and silly comments on social media; thank you. I very much appreciate it. but as you will, understand, I'm struggling to type and it may be a while before I can reply individually.


  1. Sorry to hear about all this — very nasty. Really glad all the support you needed was there, when you needed it. Easy to run at events without ever really considering what happens when something does go badly wrong. Rest well and hope to bump into you one day on the northern fells.

  2. Keep it up man. I like your spirit. I know it is hard to come back from being sidelined. Not sure what happened to my hips after I started running the end of January after some flu like something robbed me of literally all my energy which is now thankfully all back but my hips are still not right and it does slow me down. Wouldn't be able to keep up with you!

  3. The Lord delights in the way of the man whose steps He has made firm:
    Though he stumble, he will not fall (=stay down)
    For the Lord upholds him with HIS Hand...
    Bonne guérison, mon frère!

  4. Get well soon! Your comment on varifocals might well be right. Some years ago I travelled down to London with a colleague. He commented that if he seemed diffident on the down escalators, that was the result of his varifocals - he could not see his feet as looking down focussed close for reading!


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